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Chapter XXIV - Return to Italy

My husband had left Italy in 1907 and had never returned for a visit. Circumstances had not permitted it. First was lack of money, then World War I and then the children kept coming. Next came the disappointment of the Great Depression where we lost everything. Following that were the problems of re-establishment and then came the most compelling necessity, the children's education. The Second World War was another impediment.

My husband's father and mother kept begging us to go for a visit. All this happiness was denied them and us. They both died with an unsatisfied desire.

When we finally could make the move they had passed away but my husband still had brothers and sisters that he longed to see. I had only a couple of cousins and a niece and a nephew. In 1951, we thought it was time for us to make that much desired visit.

Meanwhile, Helen had decided to take a job teaching in Venezuela, South America, with the Creole Oil Company. It paid more money and she also wanted the experience of seeing how other people lived.

My husband and I decided on the date we wanted to leave, but when I went to an agent to buy our passages I was told that all the ships leaving for Italy on that date were sold out.

We had chosen that date for a special reason. The agent said we could have passage on a later date. I told him how disappointed

I was and he suggested flying. My husband turned that down. Then he said, "There are two cancellations on an English ship if you are willing to go via France. You will be able to reach Italy on time."

We said we would be willing and bought a passage on the Queen Mary. We would return on the Queen Elizabeth.

On the sixth day of September my husband and I left for the land we had lived in as children. The excitement of all our children was very high. It started the night before with a party in our home

In order to look my best I had decided to have a home permanent before leaving. Helen was working on my hair. During the period of waiting to apply the neutralizer I began to clear the room. Absentmindedly I emptied the neutralizer down the drain. Helen asked what I had done with the liquid. I said, "I don't know."

She replied "it was right here on the sink."

I said, "Oh, I emptied it down the drain."

She asked, "How am I going to finish your hair?"

I said, "I don't know. Just wash it."

"It will not be good." She shook her head in dismay.

"I need the neutralizer to complete your permanent."

By now I was annoyed and proceeded to wash my hair. I thought, "Even if the permanent doesn't look good I still have my hair."

I said to Helen, "I will do the best I can."

My husband and I didn't expect the whole family, even the very young grandchildren, to come to see us off and wish us bon voyage. However, we arrived at the pier escorted by most of the members of our family we were leaving behind. We went aboard and a retinue of our family came aboard to view the ship. When all of the visitors were asked to leave I felt desolate.

There, standing and waving on the docks was my whole life and I was going away from them. The siren's shrill sound pierced the air. The time for the ship to leave had arrived.

My grandson Teddy was terrified by the sound and was screaming and clutching the arms of his mother. The ship began to move and I began to cry as the ship pulled away. My husband reproached me and said, "Why are you crying? We have waited so long for this."

I gulped and said, "We may never see them anymore. We are going so far away. We don't know what may happen."

My husband said, "You silly fool. Of course we will see them again. In a month we will be back."

His words pulled me back to reality and we went inside to attend to the necessity of being assigned for a seat at a table. We wanted a table for two but my loitering on deck made us late in registering and we had to be satisfied to sit at a table for ten.

The Queen Mary was a magnificent ship. The service was very good and the food excellent. In the afternoon refreshments were served and at night there was entertainment.

My husband and I would usually see a movie and retire. During the day I would read and sit on the deck talking to other passengers. Sometimes we would go to the top deck of the ship and sit and meditate on the grandeur of the ocean and the smallness of the huge ship we were on.

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